Truth and Tolerance

Warning:  Controversial.

I read an article posted by a friend today.  I grew increasingly frustrated at the author’s characterizations of individuals, namely the religious right.  Now, I’ll admit that there are a few far-right evangelical Christians that promote bullying, pandering, and just plain hate.  For the most part, the general conservative Christian just simply wants to be left alone by big government.  I know I’ve had my own commentary on conservative Christians in the past.  I disagree with their stance on abstinence-only sex education for one.  However, for the most part, conservative Christians just have different convictions than liberal Christians and both have flaws.  I get angered when we polarize people.  We, and so much more so God, are complex.  Whenever we polarize people, and in turn God, we become the very narrow people we are speaking out against.

I get flustered that people think you have to agree with somebody in order to respect them.  You can have convictions, think certain behaviors are sinful, and still treat your fellow brethren with respect, even tolerance.  Tolerance doesn’t mean I agree with your stance; tolerance is living in peace and treating you with common decency, in spite of our differences.

[I recently read a fascinating view on peace in a book called the Torah Manifesto, written by a devout Jew.  It discusses that peace is less about personal happiness and minimizing chaos in life than it is about holding things in their proper tension: heaven and earth; man and woman, etc.  Remind me to post his thoughts later.  It was thought provoking and actually gives my soul rest thinking about peace in the manner he proposes.]

When I read Scripture, I interpret verses about sexual immorality to include homosexuality.  Homosexuality, the way I understand Scripture, is a sin.  However, just because I think something is sinful does not mean that I think ostracizing the sinner is beneficial.  I don’t think we should be beating up homosexuals or mocking them.  Individuals should be allowed to say they don’t want to offer their services, just like you should be allowed to say you don’t want to make purchases from a particular corporation.  It isn’t hateful to say, “I don’t want to buy from Wal-mart and support their employees salary because I disagree with some of the corporations practices.”  Churches and other organizations should be able to say, “We don’t support that and so while we love you, we won’t support your choice and can’t offer services to you.”  Love doesn’t mean I cater to your every whim.  Respecting a person doesn’t mean I have to turn a blind eye to my convictions and let you have your way.  Now, if an organization wants to offer services use them and stop hounding those who would choose otherwise.  If we don’t like a particular service being offered or how we are being treated, we have the ability to go elsewhere, right?

I could choose to play the victim and bemoan how I’m being treated.  However, I’m realizing that most people have their own worldview.  People aren’t living their lives at me, intentionally doing everything in their power to offend me.  Individuals have likes and dislikes-they are going to want to help me or not.  I don’t have the time or energy anymore to worry about who dislikes me and isn’t going to help me.  Instead of grumbling about how someone wronged me, my time would be better spent searching for those who are going to help me-be it a service offered or a friend helping me through a particular struggle.  If we all took this approach, we’d be happier people.  When we realize that other people don’t control our happiness and we, in fact control it, we will be better able to move on from struggles.  Now, this isn’t to say that people can’t honestly oppress and hurt us.  People do.  Humanity is fallen.  However, we can remain paralyzed by pain or we can choose to be made stronger.

I also don’t have to apologize for being me.  I didn’t choose to be born into a moderately wealthy family who was able to pay for my first car and assist me in college.  I didn’t choose to be white.  I didn’t choose to be female.  Each of these unforeseeable circumstances (by me, not God of course) beget me opportunities and hindrances.  I can let my “unfortunate” circumstances break me or I can choose paths to overcome these obstacles.  Perhaps if we saw our worth less in our salary or familial relations, but rather as children of God (if you adhere to a faith as I do), we’d see that we are empowered to change the world with gifts and talents God has given us. We aren’t meant to be idol bystanders.  Disease, poverty, and death are a result of sin.  Sin can either intensify our woe (which is what Satan wants because then we don’t fight back) or it can cause us to be transformed into who God wants us, and the rest of his creation, to really be.

I don’t like being lumped in with bigots and murderers because I have convictions that sin is real and it includes practices that are commonly accepted today.

I think abortion is wrong.  I think it is murder as it prevents the opportunity for life should a woman not miscarry.  (Now, it becomes a more complex issue when the health of the mother is involved.  Things are less black and white than we tend to make them.)  I’m not burning down clinics and think those that do should be prosecuted.  (I also think federal government shouldn’t be involved in this issue at all.  It should be a State issue.  We should also focus more on sex education (not just abstinence) and creating women’s care centers so women feel less hopeless, ostracized, and criticized when faced with a difficult, life-altering decision.)

I think homosexuality is sinful.  I think trans-gendered individuals have been told that their personality preferences (liking a certain color, cartoon characters, sports, etc.) define their gender.  However, I don’t think we should be making laws against homosexual marriages or forbidding individuals from choosing gender-alteration surgeries.  In fact, when it comes to marriage, I think federal government should be removed entirely.  Now, I know this gets complicated when individuals separate and need to decide how to split assets that were purchased equally.  I don’t have an answer for how to rectify that.  I just think marriage is between me, God, and my spouse, not the state.

I think we should fight for social justice and care for widows and orphans.  I think welfare should exist.  At the same time, I think the welfare system is abused.  I don’t think women who are repeatedly having children, especially with different men, should be funded for their loose sexual practices.  (Men shouldn’t be funded this way either, fyi.)  People should work for their food.  I understand that disabilities can incapacitate someone so they can’t work; they are a rare exception.  Sometimes people need a helping hand.  Welfare should be available for a season, but not as a way of life.  We are to carry each others burdens, but we are to carry our own load.  There will be seasons where we suffer and need assistance.  At the same time, we are told not to be a burden to society.  We are to work.

[In regards to work:  I know a family where the wife has her MBA.  Her husband doesn’t have his GED.  He is a traditional man and thinks a woman’s place is to care for the children and the man should work.  The wife used to be a career-oriented individual, but agreed to these traditional gender roles (which I’ve discussed at length that I vehemently find oppressive and unfortunate to society).  Anyways, they have kids.  She stays home with the kids and he works.  She has a higher earning potential.  They collect welfare.  A person with an MBA could easily earn 100k a year.  Why are my tax payer dollars going to support a family that could afford their own housing costs if they laid down their pride and had him stay home while she worked?  I want to stay home, but financially I’m not able to because my salary pays most of our bills.  I have a college degree and my husband does not.  We both work for the time being.  If we have more children, daycare will be too expensive and while Frank would prefer to work, he’d be home because I have a higher earning potential and we don’t need welfare; we shouldn’t use it then.]

Speaking of work and education, I also think it is ridiculous for an individual flipping burgers to request a salary of $15/hr.  Some people might think I’m not compassionate or understanding.  Can I say that I earned $17/hr. as a starting salary WITH a college degree in CHEMISTRY?  I worked hard in college to earn my degree.  There are individuals that would argue that I had an opportunity to attend college.  [I would then again circle back to the apology-for-circumstances-out-of-my-control paragraph previously discussed in this post.]  I’m handling synthesized pharmaceutical compounds and testing for metals. My job is more hazardous.  The substances I work with could cure or lessen disease symptoms.  You can learn how to make a properly cooked hamburger at 10, sometimes even younger.  This isn’t to say that the individual flipping burgers is inferior or worth less because they are in the service industry.  [Again, our worth isn’t defined by our wage…or at least we shouldn’t see it that way.]   Don’t mistake what I’m saying.  Service industry personnel deserve the same respect and common courtesies afforded to any individual.

I’m simply saying that the request to raise the minimum wage to the heights it has been raised to is absurd.  A basic understanding of economics would reveal that if you raise a salary, you need to raise the costs of products to support the raise in salary.  (Inflation.)  If you increase products costs, you increase the cost of living, and the minimum wage increase becomes null again.  Minimum wage jobs weren’t meant to support families for extended periods of time.  (Trade jobs are different than minimum wage jobs.)  A cashier position was intended to be a means of income to support a single person so that he or she could further education or the like.  We also have to stop thinking we are entitled to live like the rich and start living within our means.

I’ve had debates with my co-worker on our salary.  He says we don’t make enough.  Now, I am at work writing this extensive post.  I have samples analyzing.  My company is relaxed about time off (we only get 2 weeks paid vacation, but if we take a month, they don’t hound you too badly about taking off the time…you just don’t get paid for the extra two weeks).  If you need to leave early, my company is pretty understanding and lets you leave with few questions asked.  I work “full time”, but honestly I probably do 25-30 hours of honest, consistent labor and the rest is spent trolling the internet, eating lunch, and relaxing.  I get paid a decent wage.  If I want more money, I can always look for something else.  However, more money should mean more responsibilities.  When has working hard for our money gone out the window and been replaced with entitlement?  Entitled children and adults are annoying, why do we want to promote a society full of entitled individuals who think government should support them and they shouldn’t have to earn a living?

Moving on from my lengthy work discussion.  I am an Army wife.  I support the defense of our country.  I’m also slightly a pacifist.  I don’t like war.  However, our citizens need to be protected from unnecessary slaughter by terrorists and corrupt regimes (our soldiers were great in helping to take down Hitler in WW2).

I think illegal immigrants should be educated in the language we have here if they insist on staying.  I’d also prefer them to work towards earning citizenship.  America should accept refugees.  I’m okay with doing background checks on applicants, refugees seeking respite and “aliens” seeking citizenship to ensure the safety (as much as we can…dangers will always exist no matter what you do because again, sin has us living in a fallen and corrupt world) of current citizens.

Guns are fine.  Americans should be able to have them.  (I do find it interesting that people generally find it acceptable to own knives…which can also kill.  It’s trite, but guns don’t kill people, people do.  People make a choice.  A gun is merely a tool that can be yielded for good or evil, just like money and every other material item.)  However, I am also in favor of increased background checks before issuing weapons to individuals with criminal history and psychosis.  (Understand though that criminals never obey the law and so if we forbid them from gun access, they will most likely find means to access weapons.)

Marijuana should be decriminalized, in my view.  I’m okay with legalizing prostitution, but educating people about sex and trafficking (slavery).  (Trafficking should ALWAYS be illegal and corporations should have to show evidence that the prostitution was voluntary.)

As you can see, I’d probably be categorized with the religious right.  However, there are nuances in my personal worldview compared to the religious right’s worldview.  Humans are more complex than we make them.  God is WAY more complex than we assume him to be.

I may have views aligned with the religious right.  The author said that the religious right promotes bullying, pandering, and hate.  I don’t promote those things.  I don’t want a candidate for Presidency who does.  I can’t explain why so many evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump.  It saddens me.  I’m upset that he is representing the political party I’m most closely associated with.  I am disgruntled that people,mainly the left, assume I’d support Trump because I’m a conservative evangelical.

May we stop speaking for people.  Let us stop stereotyping individual worldviews and hostilities based off a minority that has spoken loud enough that sadly, the wider majority isn’t being heard and is frequently misrepresented.  Humanity is living.  God is living.  We are complex.  May we live in such a way that understands you can believe certain things to be true and not assume people to be sheltered, fearful, or hateful.  Let love (a deep relationship based on communication with challenging confrontations) reign in the beauty of our intricate differences and disagreements. In the process of this reign, our characters will grow, society will be better, and we just might learn something about ourselves and others.  In fact, we just might witness the change we hope to see (in ourselves and subsequently, the world).

 

 

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